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"The Wondersmith", Part 1


Published


This 1859 Christmas horror story puts traditional figures of European legend and lore ('gypsies', hunchbacks, stolen children, wizards, and demons) into a tough New York City neighborhood. The result is a scary urban Victorian fantasy. Better hope Santa doesn't bring you presents from the Wondersmith.


Source Atlantic Monthly, October 1859
Run time 45 min.
Label / Recorded by Maureen S. O'Brien

Notes

This story contains stereotypical portrayals of Rom. (Mixed in with some real life information, which probably means O'Brien had read Lavengro.) They do not appear to have been intended maliciously, or used for anything but an interesting and non-typical background for a gang of fantasy villains. Still, stereotypes are stereotypes.

Reviews

Reviewer: cwreenactor - - December 17, 2011
Subject: "The Wondersmith" Part 1
I am a fan of Fitz-James O'Brien, and this is a fascinating Christmas tale. It is not the typical fare, nor is it like "A Chrsitmas Carol." It does have some creepy moments, and you do not want to be the recipient of one of the Wondersmith's deadly manikins. I do think the quality of the recording is only fair, and I think Ms. O'Brien should have read the text before recording. She stumbles in a number of places, and it makes for uneven storytelling. I also do not like the fact that this had been abridged, even if only slightly. As a Civil War reenactor, I prefer my texts (& audios) to be in tact. I realize 19th century tales can be needlessly long, but reading was a main form of entertainment, if not the only form, for many in the 1850s & 1860s. I do applaud the effort, because there is nowhere the works of Fitz-James O'Brien have been recorded. Mr. O'Brien died in 1862 due to a severe wound in battle.
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